Marketing to authors and selling your services is all about finding clients and making it possible for them to find you. Another important aspect of the process is to make a plan to help clients understand the value you will bring to their work.
You will find that there are many people who want to become authors but who do not know how to go about it. There are others who may have a good idea about what to do but do not have the time to do it. Either way, what you offer is valuable and your job is to share your passion, enthusiasm and expertise to those who really need it.
Marketing and Selling
Let us define a couple of terms here.
Marketing is the process of letting people know you and your business exist, what you do, and that you are ready to take on new clients.
Selling is talking to those potential clients, helping them understand how you can help them specifically and helping them make a commitment to working with you that will be right for them.
Like anything else, you will get more and more comfortable talking about yourself and what you offer, the more you do it. You will be able to see what makes people interested and excited about working with you.
We want you to succeed in finding great author clients because we know they are out there and they need your help, skill and expertise. For some people, the idea of selling themselves is scary. Consider thinking about this in a new way: You are bringing a service to people that they want. You are sharing the expertise they need and helping them make their dreams of becoming an author.
Making a Plan for Success
It is important as you start considering how you will market and sell your services to authors to take the time to make a simple plan. Take time to understand the needs of authors, your target market and how what you offer meets those needs. Another aspect is to look at how what you offer is different than what is offered by others. It is important to understand your own strengths and focus on what you can do that maybe others can’t because of your unique personality, experience and background.
Once you have done some thinking about what you do and how that fits with what your author clients will need, then you need a plan for what activities will help you get noticed by potential author clients.
On the Online Headquarters is an actual marketing plan for a virtual author’s assistant, but you will want to create your own by making changes that fit for you. Here are the sections in the plan and what to consider.
The target market is your most desirable clients for your business. Who would you like to be your clients? Don’t say “anyone who needs me!” There is a lot more to it. The better you are at attracting the right clients, the more success you will have as a virtual author’s assistant.
Not everyone who is writing a book will be a good client for you. The number one reason for this is that not all authors have the budget they need and not all authors will recognize the value of what you bring…at least at first.
Your job (and ours) is to help educate authors on why an author’s assistant can actually save them money and make them money. But your job is also to help potential clients determine what is right for them considering their timetable, budget and abilities.
You will be tempted, as many author’s assistants are, to take on clients pro bono who really cannot afford to hire you because you know they need your help. Our advice to you is to get a full paid client load first and then take on others if your income allows you to do this.
It is important for you and for all author’s assistants that you do not undervalue your services and give them away. If you want to “give back,” then consider doing free teleclasses or talks at a local library. Help people help themselves, but do not give away your time in the process.
There is a huge demand for author assistant services because more people become authors each year and many more want to. But what is your opportunity? What kinds of authors do you want to work with? How much money do you want to make working with authors?
Over the course of the virtual author’s assistant training we discussed more than 50 critical tasks in working with authors. Although we consider these the main focus, there are certainly other areas of expertise you bring.
You may also wish to specialize in only several of these areas. Some author’s assistants do only one – such as doing virtual book tours, but most offer many more.
Never feel as if you need to say “yes” to whatever an author asks you to do. It is always better to say, “That isn’t part of my expertise, but I can refer you to someone who I know will do a great job for you.” You do not have to do it all, but become a resource for everything related to becoming an author.
Competitive differentiation is just a fancy way of saying what makes you unique. Each one of us brings different interests and experiences to our own practice and it is important to consider what strengths you have that will make you the perfect author’s assistant for certain types of authors.
Maybe you have a background working in a medical office, so you will have special skills in working with authors who are focused on health topics. Maybe you like to garden in your spare time and know quite a bit about gardening that might like to feature your horticulturist-authors books.
What you have done before and what you enjoy doing may make you a natural to work with authors who are writing on particular topics.
Once you have done the background work that tells you “what” and “why” it is important to set up a specific plan for the “how”, “who” and “when” of marketing to authors.
Marketing is not just something you do when you begin your business and then never again. Working on marketing your services is something you should do every month you work as an author’s assistant. It is hardest to find new clients when you need them. It is easier to constantly be doing the things that bring you clients all the time and on your own schedule. And it can be fun, too.
The other thing to think about is budget. There are many low and no cost marketing opportunities that you will want to take advantage of first, rather than spending a lot of money on things that may or may not work for you.
The marketing activities you select should be those that you both enjoy doing and you think will be the most effective. Start with some preparation to set the stage of success. Unless you plan to only work in your own community, then you will need a web site to let people know what you do. You probably need business cards as well, with your own name and perhaps a special name for your business, if you do not already have one. We will help you do all of this with resources on the Online Headquarters.
After your preparation activities, start simple and start local. If you like writing, write articles (or modify or add to those we have already written for you). If you like speaking, talk to the local bookstore or library about doing a 15-minute talk on becoming an author. If you have current clients, send a friendly email about your new skills and expertise.
The more personal connections you have potential clients (or others who might refer clients) the better your chance of immediate success.
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